Lisbon was recently named as being the fourth most beautiful city in the world in the latest edition of Urban City Guides, behind Venice, Paris and Prague. It’s hoped this accolade will help boost tourism to the city, as Lisbon is often overlooked by tourists in search of a beach holiday.
Lisbon beat other notable cities such as Amsterdam, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Florence. The guide is certainly effusive in its description of Lisbon, pointing out the enchanting views, picturesque streets and beautiful buildings. Urban City Guides also praised Portugal, awarding it sixth place in the world’s top 10 most beautiful countries. It was beaten by Greece, Australia, France, Spain and Italy, but was ahead of Germany, South Africa, Brazil and the USA. Areas that were particularly singled out for attention included the Azores, and Madeira.
Many people would say Lisbon thoroughly deserves its fourth place, as it does have unique architecture and is undeniably beautiful. Visitors will find a plethora of things to do and see, while there are plenty of parks and gardens to enjoy a quieter moments. Madeira and the Azores are often thought of as being expensive places to visit, as it would be reasonable to expect the cost of transporting goods to these islands would push up the prices.
However the reality is somewhat different and holidaymakers are often pleasantly surprised to find the cost of living is as low as in mainland Portugal. Portugal currently has the distinction of being the cheapest western European nation in the euro area in which to live.
A new study on the quality of life which has been compiled by the University of Beira Interior shows Lisbon as being the top city, followed by Oporto and Albufeira.
The top 30 places in the study are dominated by municipalities in the Algarve, while towns and cities in northern Portugal account for most of the bottom 30 out of the 308 municipalities assessed in this report. The study is based on the indexes of social and economic development.
People living in Albufeira are not surprised it is ranked third in this study as considerable investments that have been made in homes for the young and elderly, in basic sanitation and urban cleanliness, and in education and culture. The city has invested a lot in public spaces such as museums and art galleries and the municipal library, and the county has enjoyed good economic development thanks to tourism.
Albufeira is on the south coast of Portugal and covers an area of around 140 km². It has a population of approximately 40,000 residents, including around 4,000 foreigners. Although the area is known for its tourism, it also has a rich history and culture. In addition its renowned for its excellent food, as one of the principal activities in the region is fishing.
There are no less than three golf courses in Albufeira, and the local council has made considerable efforts to promote sports. It’s also known for its lively nightlife, and for its entertainment. There are also numerous activities available for tourists and locals alike, making it easy to see why this municipality rates so highly for its quality of life.
Apparently more people are choosing to buy previously owned properties in Lisbon rather than brand-new homes. This thought to be due to the sheer number of previously owned properties on the market, and their pricing.
Nearly three quarters of homes for sale in Lisbon during the fourth quarter of last year, and the first quarter of this year were previously owned. Another reason for their popularity is that many are bank owned repossessions, and as such are more likely to qualify for mortgages from the bank.
This has led to a fall in the number of licenses issued for new construction, and the number of new builds in Portugal is falling. Brand-new homes tend to be offered at higher prices than previously owned homes, and as a result can be more difficult to sell, taking several months longer than a second-hand property. At the moment a previously owned home is taking around 16 months to sell, whereas in 2007 the sale of such property took just seven months.
There is also the question of location, as homes within the city center are in shorter supply, and new builds tend to be more expensive and smaller in comparison to previously owned properties. While some people may be opting for bank owned properties due to the ease of getting a loan, others are taking advantage of the downturn in the market to buy homes for cash.
They are purchasing properties from homeowners desperate to sell, and are then renting out these homes. It estimated that between half and three quarters of all property transactions at the moment are being completed without the need for any financing.